Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes

(3 votes)

1 small eggplant, (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 cups whole canned tomatoes
drained and coarsely chopped
1 small hand basil leaves, finely chopped
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
7 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup red or white wine
3/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Toss the eggplant cubes together with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until they are browned and tender. Remove and reserve.

3. In a sauté pan or skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil. Cook over high heat until the sauce just thickens. Remove from heat, stir in the eggplant, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. In a saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer. Keep the liquid at a bare simmer while you proceed with the risotto.

5. In a heavy 4-quart casserole, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes, until the rice is well coated. When the grains become slightly translucent, add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is completely absorbed.

6. Add 1 cup of hot broth or water, and stir frequently, until the liquid is almost absorbed, then continue adding a little over cup of liquid at a time, stirring until each is almost completely absorbed. Adjust the heat so that the risotto is always at a gentle simmer. After about 18 minutes, add the reserved eggplant and tomato, a final 1/2 cup of broth, and continue stirring for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is pleasantly al dente and creamy at the same time.

7. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine with the rice. Serve risotto as soon as possible, and serve additional Parmesan cheese at the table.

4 to 6 servings

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